As states and cities across the country begin to take steps toward re-opening their economies, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller held a “telephone town hall” to preview what this process might look like in the city and to elicit feedback from citizens and business owners.
After outlining what the city has already done to support businesses — from fast-tracking tens of millions of dollars in construction spending to targeted loans to over 130 small businesses — Keller described the need for a thoughtful, data-driven approach to re-opening. He noted that the worst-case scenario is experiencing another large-scale outbreak that forces a reclosure, which would have dire health and economic implications for the city. “We want to try and do this in the right way, in a staggered way, so that we don’t have to close again,” Keller said in his introduction to the town hall. “The key is to reopen in a way that keeps our healthcare system at an adequate capacity.”
Wanting to avoid a stop-and-start “freeze tag” situation with the economy, Mayor Keller indicated that there are many businesses that will soon be able to operate with certain precautions such as masks and limited capacity in place, while others — he cited hair salons and tattoo parlors as close-contact businesses — will be more difficult to re-open in the immediate future.
Keller cited the state’s early investment in flattening the curve and building a strong testing capacity as key factors that will make it easier and safer to re-open, and said that he believes that having a strong contact tracing regime in place will be a necessary step.
The mayor also urged residents to shop locally as much as possible, supporting local restaurants, grocers, and small businesses to support their neighbors’ jobs and livelihoods.
To listen to the full town hall, click here and press play on the audio file below the video report.